Amaranth seed has more protein and fewer carbohydrates than both buckwheat and white rice, and its protein is supposedly more complete. I have it growing all over my garden and I've just been pulling it out and throwing it in my compost pile but I think I'll start harvesting it to eat. Thanks, Jonathan! The seeds are a grain that can be eaten. The seed can only be eaten when it's cooked, as it inhibits nutrient absorption when consumed raw. Maybe it's more of an acquired taste. This helps to keep Wild Edible online. Many species are native to the southern U.S. and Mexico, so you can expect it to thrive even when late spring and summer is unusually warm. Here is a detailed look at amaranth and its health benefits. Root rot can be a problem in wet, dense soil or in periods where rainfalls are frequent and copious. According to this study, amaranth seed's protein  is similar to animal protein. In fact, once-upon-a-time, this was the primary reason amaranth served as a staple in home cottage gardens. Amaranth leaves are a good source of potassium. Amaranth has another edible advantage: the leaves can be harvested as a vegetable. Flowers vary interspecifically from the presence of 3 or 5 tepals and stamens, whereas a 7-porate pollen grain structure remains consistent across the family. It even has medicinal qualities. Palmer's amaranth is native to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, but it has aggressively expanded its range, becoming invasive in many parts of the world. Nearly all amaranths are edible, including love-lies-bleeding and even the common road-side weedy forms. Awesome, I'm glad it was helpful! I'd never heard of it but I just googled it. While amaranth plants are tall, they aren’t necessarily wide or bushy. It is a traditional food of Native Americans including the … So you can get away with growing them 10 to 18 inches apart. Edible Parts. In reply to Great article! copyright © 2010-2020 Wild Edible, all rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions. Harvesting Amaranth Plants. edible amaranth is also known as pigweed. I love "weeds" that can go straight into the harvest basket with the rest of the food crops! I have a friend who prefers amaranth over lambsquarters for flavor, though. Rinse away the dried seed “chaff” and enjoy your grain harvest. Amaranthus palmeri, Palmer […] In a plethora of spots on the map, Amaranth is viewed as a traditional garden crop – especially in South America. Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that may reduce cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the 2014 addition of the journal Nutrition & Metabolism. Once the flowers have developed, let the amaranth flowers grow fully and watch carefully for the first few flowers to start dying back or browning a … In many parts of the world, in South America especially, Amaranth is deemed a traditional garden vegetable crop. Or you can use a room or closet with a dehumidifier running. Unlike other leafy green vegetables, amaranth is fairly happy in the heat. Read on to find out how to harvest amaranth and other information about harvesting amaranth grains. Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates n… I’m interested in knowing how to feed ourselves and our chickens in case of disaster. As greens go, most folks consider amaranth better than acceptable but probably not what you would call "top shelf". Inflorescences of Powell amaranth (left) and purple amaranth (right). Pigweed seeds should never be eaten raw. Don't overwater, or you run the risk of root rot or fungal diseases. If you are eager for early harvest, you can start the seeds indoors as much as eight weeks earlier. In fact, excessive nitrogen will cause the plants to become leggy and less suitable for harvesting. Even though the leaves of all 60 varieties are edible, some do boast prickly spines that have to be removed before preparing as a food. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, sautéed, etc. Amaranth Recipe Ideas. Avoid using commercial pesticides with a "wait to pick" or any other type of warning regarding consumption. Amaranth grows well in any average well-drained soil, but it will struggle in dense clay soils. It was a main staple of the Aztecs and was cultivated by them as long as 8,000 years ago. Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients. Aztec ritual. Regardless of your cultivar, amaranth leaves can be harvested at any point. The study also found that tocotrienols may be protective against cancer and have anti-inflammatory qualities. One of the amaranth seed's most attractive traits, in an era of anti-wheat, is simply the fact that amaranth is gluten-free. The seed, oil, and leaf are used as food. As they sprout in spring, the volunteers can be thinned out to about 10 to 18 inches apart, or carefully dug up and transplanted elsewhere. If you find lambsquarters, you're likely to find amaranth growing nearby, as they're similar plants and do well in similar conditions. The closer you can get them, the better they look once fully grown. You can harvest both leaves and grain from any amaranth, but if your goal is an edible plant, choose a variety based on your goals. Although amaranth leaves are edible and a good nutrition source in their own right, many people harvest the small seeds which grow on the plants (up to 60,000 per plant) and eat them either whole or ground into flour. Depending on variety, this may take several rinsings due to the amount of chaff. To cook, add to boiling water and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. It’s possible that it will resprout for another harvest, though you do risk introducing pests to the open stem. Before they all turn brown, cut the flowers off and place them in bags, where they will dry. Amaranth shares a family with the common (and edible) weeds; lambsquarters and pigweed. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. Amaranth loves the heat and is drought tolerant once established. Like so many fresh Asian greens, amaranth greens need no embellishment aside from a few cloves of crushed garlic. Amaranth grains are especially good in a porridge that also contains other grains, such as millet and quinoa. Of course the wickedly thorny variety is what usually volunteers in my beds. Large size and heat won’t turn amaranth leaves bitter, as often occurs with other leafy greens. If consumption is the goal, choose annual amaranth varieties marketed as edibles. Cultivated in Mexico thousands of years ago, both the leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible. You can also use the leaves of amaranth as a leafy vegetable; the taste is similar to spinach and they can be used in the same way as many of the leafy vegetables, especially in mixed-green salads. Thanks for your support! it will grow even for people who don't want it. To ensure continued production, it's a good idea to stagger planting every two to three weeks, beginning a week or two after the last frost date in your region. Amaranths don't require any feeding. Various wild species of amaranth are saddled with the label pigweed, particularly in North America, and several of those now feature on the list of the world’s weeds that have developed a resistance to glyphosate. Amaranth is a hardy plant that thrives in tropical climates around the world. The flavor is sometimes described as earthy or grassy. Many of these types of pesticides are broad spectrum designed to eliminate multiple insect pests and may contain ingredients that aren't meant to be ingested by humans. Not really. One part seeds to two parts water is a happy medium. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, 2 to 7 feet (depends on species and variety). Amaranth is enjoyed by birds, insects, and also makes a great cut flower. There are some 60 amaranth species, maybe 70 (it depends on who’s counting.) Since amaranth is such a weedy, farmer-plaguing plant, be careful harvesting in areas that may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals — or that may have absorbed high levels of nitrates from fertilizer. Amaranth is a broad-leafed, edible plant that some say may hold the answer to improving diet in the world's most obese country—Mexico. Good to know by Jonathan. Aphids and flea beetles are common; insecticidal soaps are a good remedy for the former, and floating row covers will protect the plants from the latter. With their plentiful seeds, amaranth plants will readily self-seed in the garden. [tweet_quote] Amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and both its seeds and leaves are edible. Sushila Chaudhari , MSU Department of Horticulture’s new edible specialty crops weed scientist, will be investigating the distribution of this weed species in Michigan as well as the biology and control options available. Every part of the amaranth plant is edible: roots, seeds, stem, leaves, and flowers. Sorting out some amaranths Amaranthus hybridus, aka Smooth Amaranth, stems can be red or green Smooth Amaranth red leaf hairy, green can be hairless. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. I frequently see it on the edges of fields and parks. For more of a soupy porridge-type texture, use one part seeds to three parts water. ... Grains are the edible seeds of plants called cereals. If starting indoors, use a general seed-starting mix and make sure to harden off the seedlings before transplanting outdoors. But those sold as edible varieties are selected for their good seed production and especially tasty leaves. And unlike a lot of gluten-free wheat alternatives, it's really good for you. Amaranth plant grows wildly hence the natural tendencies to write it off as a weed. Flowering amaranth plants can still have their leaves harvested to eat, but you may find that the flavor changes after the amaranth plant flowers. Gomphrena globosa, commonly known as globe amaranth, makhmali, and vadamalli, is an edible plant from the family Amaranthaceae.The round-shaped flower inflorescences are a visually dominant feature and cultivars have been propagated to exhibit shades of magenta, purple, red, orange, white, pink, and lilac. Varieties of amaranth can range from giants topping 8 feet to smaller 1- to 2-foot plants better suited for leaf harvest only. You can consume them raw, stir-fried, or sauteed. If you are planting amaranth in containers, make sure your container is at least 10” deep. Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. Amaranth is a herbaceous plant or shrub that is either annual or perennial across the genus. What Parts Of The Amaranth Plant Are Edible? For greens, pick amaranth leaves from young plants avoiding larger leaves — smaller to medium-sized leaves are more tender and more nutrient-rich than their bigger counterparts. Store in clean jars or use right away. Andrey Zharkikh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0. The weedy amaranth types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated varieties. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates. Within the flowerheads, the true flowers are small and inconspicuous. Amaranth leaves and grains were one of the staple foods of Aztecs and Incas in pre-Columbian times. Shake the bag once they are dry, or knock the seeds loose over a cloth. Far from it, the amaranth is a nutritious plant with many health benefits. The Amaranthus genus is a complicated one, featuring at least 75 annual and perennial species that easily cross-breed and hybridize. It makes a great salad ingredient after spring greens have been harvested or are bolting. Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa. pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. Steam, stir-fry, saute, or mix with spaghetti sauce, rice, or meatloaf. A proper history of amaranth would fill an entire book (or several). This amaranth has nutritious, flavorful foliage with a hearty spinach flavor that is sweet and slightly tangy. Pigweed plants can grow to over six feet high with alternating oval to diamond-shaped leaves that may be up to six inches long. Amaranth greens are nutritious, edible leafy vegetables of Central American origin. Amaranth greens nutrition facts. For one, any plant that survives the onslaught of toxic petro-pesticides will most likely harbor the toxic constituents of the pesticide and pass them on to whomever eats the plant. Amaranths are usually planted from seeds as soon as the last frost has passed in the spring. amaranth is an entire group of plants. I’m gathering amaranth to collect seed to feed my chickens. It's also possible to collect some of the seeds in fall and replant them the following spring. Affiliate Disclaimer: In some cases, we use affiliate links, which means we get a small (tiny) commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link. Note that some species of amaranth leaves, particularly purple amaranth, are … Overview Information Amaranth is a plant. By using The Spruce, you accept our, 15 Red-Flowering Plants to Consider for Your Garden, 10 Tall Annual Flowers that Make a Strong Impact, Amaranth Adds Drama to the Sunny Flower Garden. This plant was widely used for food by Native Americans of the Southwest. Palmer amaranth, aka Palmer pigweed (Amaranthus Palmeri), one of the better known species, has a reputation for being an invasive weed that plagues cotton and soybean fields in the South. Amaranth's/pigweed's favorite stomping grounds are disturbed areas like fields, yards, and the edges of woods. Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. See the USDA's amaranth seed nutrition table for a full list of nutrients. Amaranth grows well in average soils and will grow adequately in poor soils. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. In other words, it’s the ideal plant for edible landscaping. The tiny flowers of amaranth grow by the hundreds along the stem and are easily recognized in fields where they emerge above crops like cotton. You can harvest both leaves and grain from any amaranth, but if your goal is an edible plant, choose a variety based on your goals. Angela England is the author of "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)," and edits the online publication Blissfully Domestic. Amaranth is related to a common weed you probably know, pigweed. Amaranth does best in full sun in the northern part of its range, but in warm southern climates, it benefits from some shade in the afternoon. Be aware, though, that if the original plants were hybrids, the volunteer seedlings may not "come true" and may look different than the parent plant. The bulk seed is uses as a "grain" in porridges or added as a thickener to soups and stews. Amaranthus caudatus known by common names as love-lies-bleeding, pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quilete.. Average outdoor temps need to reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit before planting the seedlings outdoors. The stems are usually smooth or slightly hairy except for spiny pigweed (Amaranthus spinosus), which has thorns — I first discovered this when unsuspectingly weeding my garden with bare hands. First cut off the entire flower head and put in a paper or fine mesh bag, and then let them dry for a week or two in a well-ventilated, shady area, like open-air barn. Native Americans used Amaranthus species as a food source for centuries. The leaves are used as a typical green would be. Before that, it was foraged wild. The seeds, like that of quinoa, are high in protein and taste similar to true grains grown from grass seeds. Keep an eye on the flowers as they bloom and then begin to die back. Amaranth seed or grain is also edible when toasted or milled into flour. Then sift the seeds through a strainer to remove the coarser chaff. Amaranth plants have average needs for water (no more than 1 inch per week). Or, you can cut the whole plant down off at ground level when it is 1 to 2 feet tall. These are very easy-to-grow plants, as befits a genus with many species that grow as roadside native plants. Ancient super-food? One to one makes a really firm consistency. "Pigweed" is a common name for a few different plants, including lambsquarters, but the particular pigweed I'm writing about is the one whose genus is Amaranthus, also known as "amaranth.". You’ll want to cultivate larger plants specifically grown for their seeds if you want the amaranth grain. There are around 60 species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness. Amaranths produce enormous quantities of tiny seeds that will rampantly self-seed around the parent plant if you don't carefully harvest the seed heads when they mature. Only dense clay soils are likely to be completely unsuitable for amaranth. Like buckwheat, amaranth is considered a "pseudo-cereal," which basically means it's not in the grass family like wheat and corn — it seems like a subtle difference to me but apparently pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. Great article! Smooth Amaranth flowers are short, petiole one half the lenght of the leaf to as long as the leaf. Germination generally takes 7 to 14 days. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. The botanical genus name, Amaranthus , (am-a-RANTH-us) comes from the Greek word “amarandos, (Αμάραντος) which means non-fading, since its flowers last a long time. For the casual forager, though, amaranth leaves are more accessible and require little processing effort compared with the seed. We only link books and other products that we think would be useful to our readers. The seeds are extremely nutritious and protein-packed with a slightly nutty flavor. Edible amaranth is often grown for the plentiful tiny seeds that hang in tassels from the top of the plant after the attractive red flowers fade. All amaranth foliage, which ranges from green to yellow, orange and red, like Hopi red dye amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus x A. powelli), is edible. Like quinoa, amaranth is often referred to as an ancient grain because of its storied history behind the plant’s edible seeds, which loom large in Aztec lore. Not only are its leaves delectable, its seeds are also edible and nutritious as well. North America is home to both native and introduced species of pigweed -- at least one species can be found throughout the entire continent. See the USDA's amaranth leaves nutrition table for details. Picked young enough, amaranth leaves do make a good, mildly flavored steamed green, reminiscent of steamed spinach, and the flavor varies from species to species, some more bitter than others. Growing Amaranth in Containers. Looks like its Latin name is Amaranthus tuberculatus. Very rich soils are not necessary for amaranth, and may even hinder flowering and seed production. For one, any plant that survives the onslaught of toxic petro-pesticides will most likely harbor the toxic constituents of the pesticide and pass them on to whomever eats the plant.Amaranth also has a propensity to accumulate nitrates and oxalates, which can make it unpalatable and unsafe for eatin… To collect seeds to make flour simply lay the seed heads on a cloth and dry them in the sun for a couple of days. Amaranth also has a propensity to accumulate nitrates and oxalates, which can make it unpalatable and unsafe for eating, especially when it grows in soil that's been over-exposed to nitrates from commercial fertilizer. Like these weeds it readily grows in cultivated soil and will self-sow easily if allowed to go to seed. At the same time, they need enough space to provide good air circulation. Helpful article! Many Asian and African dishes make use of amaranth greens. How does it taste? Edible Parts. Spiny amaranth has edible leaves and might be a medicine and sex aid. You can pick them as microgreens as soon as they sport two sets of true leaves, or you can wait and harvest baby leaves for fresh salads. The seeds are ready to harvest when they start falling off of the plant, usually towards middle to late summer. However, a notable … When harvesting the leaves, make sure to leave the crown and some leaves around the top to continue growing. You often hear amaranth called an ancient grain because it was once grown and harvested by Aztec and Inca civilizations. It's also high in vitamin A and calcium, as well as a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals. key word weed. Today, flour and grain products are available on grocery shelves in the U.S. with recipes of all kinds on the internet. Maybe. Including Amaranthus retroflexus (red root pigweed), A. spinosus (spiny pigweed), A. palmeri (Palmer’s pigweed), and A. hybridus (rough pigweed), these uninvited agricultural and garden guests are so ubiquitous that they seldom invite closer scrutiny from farmers … In reply to I’m gathering amaranth to by Anne. But, in technical terms, amaranth seeds aren't really grain. Amaranth can fall prey to many of the same pests and diseases that affect other vegetables. I'm partial to its cousin, lambsquarters, but amaranth leaves are definitely worth foraging. In terms of nutrition, "amaranth" is usually synonymous with "amaranth seed," so most of the published nutrition information refers to the seed, or amaranth flour. Both the leaves and stems are edible. The local amaranth seems to be a variety called “water hemp,” growing in wet areas. Species across the genus contain concentric rings of vascular bundles, and fix carbon efficiently with a C4 photosynthetic pathway. Make sure the site you choose has good drainage and air circulation. Cook young tender pigweed leaves as you would spinach; steam or sauté/stir-fry in butter or oil. Smooth Amaranth flower Smooth Amaranth, green form.

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